Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Friend Zone

*It was pointed out to me recently that the title of this blog is The Blog That Boredom Built. There's a clear reference to baseball in the title (The House That Ruth Built), but ultimately the goal of this blog was to write whatever was on my mind, sports related or not. So for this next week, while the sports world is kind of in a lull, I'm going to try my hand at a bunch of random thoughts I've had or ideas someone has given me. Today, we start with the Friend Zone.

There's nothing worse for a guy than being in the 'friend zone.' The friend zone is an urban legend, though. Invented years ago by one of those beautiful southern belles who was simply too nice to tell her ugly guy friend that she wasn't interested. Instead she decided to say he was "too good of a friend" and that she "didn't want the relationship to end and be without a friend." It's almost always bullshit.

In my experiences, both personally and close friends of mine, there's two possibilities when a girl says you're too good of a friend. Either she's lying (which is the case about 95% of the time) so she doesn't hurt your feelings, or she's actually being honest. Look, trust me, I know that sounds ludicrous. A woman actually being honest about her feelings? Only when she's rejecting someone, I suppose.

But when I was young and stupid, I was always very nice to girls. That's not to say I'm impolite now or rude or an asshole (although I'm sure some would say that's a pretty good description) because I do believe you need to respect women and treat them right. But if you're trying to get a girl interested in you, for one night, for a month fling, or even for a serious relationship, you CANNOT wait on her night and day and always be there when she needs you to be. It's absolutely ridiculous how ass-backward a woman's mind works, but the guys that are consistently there for the girl end up in the friend zone.

I realize that makes no sense. Women always complain about just "wanting a guy who treats me like a princess" but what they really mean is "I want a guy who treats me like a princess when I want him to do that, who is mysterious enough to keep my interest and looks like Brad Pitt."

There's a scene in 'When Harry Met Sally' in which Harry (Billy Crystal) tells Sally (Meg Ryan) that men and women can never be friends. It's one of the funnier parts of the movie in my opinion, because on some level Harry is absolutely right when he explains why. Here's the exact back and forth:

Harry Burns: You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally Albright: Why not?
Harry Burns: What I'm saying is - and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form - is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
Sally Albright: That's not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Harry Burns: No you don't.
Sally Albright: Yes I do.
Harry Burns: No you don't.
Sally Albright: Yes I do.
Harry Burns: You only think you do.
Sally Albright: You say I'm having sex with these men without my knowledge?
Harry Burns: No, what I'm saying is they all WANT to have sex with you.
Sally Albright: They do not.
Harry Burns: Do too.
Sally Albright: They do not.
Harry Burns: Do too.
Sally Albright: How do you know?
Harry Burns: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
Sally Albright: So, you're saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
Harry Burns: No. You pretty much want to nail 'em too.
Sally Albright: What if THEY don't want to have sex with YOU?
Harry Burns: Doesn't matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.
Sally Albright: Well, I guess we're not going to be friends then.
Harry Burns: I guess not.
Sally Albright: That's too bad. You were the only person I knew in New York.
The majority of that is true to me and probably most guys. I'm not sure I would want to sleep with a girl I didn't find attractive, but I'm sure plenty of guys have so they probably relate better with that part.

It's a tough situation for women too. If you're good looking, experience teaches you to be somewhat rude to men you aren't attracted too. I don't think this is done on purpose, or even with the woman realizing she's doing it. But the attractive women that are willing to be nice and kind to everyone are the ones that attract the 'friend zone' types of guys. These guys are very self-conscious, with low self-esteem, so when a pretty girl is nice to them they fall in love. We've all seen it happen time after time, most likely throughout high school. Then the girl has to tell him they're too good of friends, or something like it, and by not sharing the same intimate feelings for the guy, the woman has actually ended the friendship right there. Even the guys with no self-esteem aren't going to be friends with a woman that just shot them down. As a male, let me assure you that all men have too much pride for that. But this is why I think good-looking girls are rude at times, and also why sometimes they feel like nobody will approach them.

The majority of guys, I think, would admit they aren't going to go up to a random good looking girl walking on campus and try to start up a conversation. A bar is a different story, because alcohol is involved and most guys don't care if they get rejected when they're drunk. It's just on to the next one. But if you get rejected on campus, it's embarrassing, there's no built in excuse (I was drunk) and chances are a lot of people are going to see it. At a bar, nobody's paying attention. So if you're a woman, and you're not getting hit on, don't worry. Well, maybe worry. You're either ugly (probably most of you) or you're simply too good looking and most guys are too scared to approach you sober. And the ones that are willing to approach you are likely the sleezy scum bags that give the rest of the male population a bad reputation.

But guys, just because you're afraid to approach a woman and start up a conversation DOES NOT mean it's a smart idea to somehow become friends. For example, let's say I'm on campus and I see a good looking girl. I pee my pants and run the other way because I have no idea what to say to a pretty girl. Then after finding a change of clothes, I go into class and guess what? That girl's there. It would be stupid to try to become friends with this girl, because then you're in the friend zone right away and that's a deep hole to climb out of. Trust me, I've done it. (Climbing out of the hole, not peeing my pants.)

Don't be a panzy. Talk to her for a little bit, find out some things about her, what her name is, etc. and after a few minutes walk away. Don't linger, don't volunteer to be her partner, and don't start sitting next to her in class. You need to let her know you know she's there, but without always being around. You want to create some aura of mystery, and if you only talk to her once in a while, she'll be intrigued. Oh, and you absolutely have to be witty or funny in some way. She might not even remember what you said that was so funny, but I promise she'll remember that you made her laugh. If you're really good looking it won't matter, but if you're really good looking you should have no problems in the friend zone either.

And most girls actually do value your personality and the way you act around them more than the way you look. Obviously if you look like Danny DeVito you'll have a lot more trouble, but most women probably consider most men in the same general vicinity of attractiveness, which is of the "not very" variety. A first impression is the most important thing to a girl. If you want to avoid the friend zone, do as stated above. But if for some reason you're looking for a hot friend who will cry about her boyfriends to you, then by all means treat these girls like princesses all the time.

And, undoubtedly, someone out there is reading this and shaking their head vehemently in denial at every point I've made. This person shaking their head is the guy that started in the friend zone, slowly but surely worked his way into hooking up with her, eventually that led to dating for a while, then most likely a short break up, before they got back together. Well, if you can relate to that guy and you're still dating this girl, good for you. But it's not going to last. No good long-term relationship will start with a guy in the friend zone. Not one. Just trust me on that. If you are thinking to yourself "But hey, me and my boyfriend started out as friends and we're getting married soon!" Or something along those lines, there's a good possibility that you were both attracted to each other right away. My point is simply that if only the man is attracted to the woman originally, it's not going to work out.

Now, some women are probably reading this and wondering why I haven't mentioned the friend zone the other way around. You know, where a woman falls for a guy but the guy says they're too good of friends. The problem with that is that NO GUY WOULD EVER SAY THAT. If a guy has ever told you that you are "too good of a friend and he doesn't want to ruin things" or something along those lines, he's gay. He literally is a homosexual. Which is fine, but then you didn't get rejected, you hit on someone who is interested in the other sex.

Every straight male, no matter how ugly said woman was, would have a different response. If the guy was lucky enough to get the love confession as a text, chances are he'll ignore it for a few hours and hope she says something else so he can avoid the subject altogether if he's not into her at all. But in most cases, if a girl falls for a guy AND is willing to tell him, he feels the same way. Women aren't nearly as blindly optimistic as men are; Men will hit on different women and feel like they're going to succeed each time. Women always assume the worst, so if they're willing to tell someone they have feelings for them, the guy has definitely hinted that he likes her.

As a guy, trust me, if we like you, you'll know. There are many subtle ways to hint at liking a girl without coming out and saying it. While being direct may work in some special cases, the fact is women like the buildup. You can't just tell a girl you like them most of the time. If you see her in person, tell her she looks beautiful. She'll thank you, and then you can continue having a normal conversation, but she'll absolutely remember that you called her beautiful. She'll think about it every time she looks in the mirror that day, anytime her mind wanders, chances are those two words you mentioned to her will be in her head all day. DO NOT SAY THIS EVERY DAY. No matter how good looking or beautiful she is, you cannot always tell her she looks beautiful. This is not to demean her or to make her feel less important, but rather to make the times you do tell her she looks beautiful that much more memorable.

Flirting is another sign. Guys don't flirt with girls they aren't attracted to. While some girls are flirty with everyone because they love the attention, this kind of guy does not exist. Even the high maintenance guys who feel the need to get attention all the time aren't going to flirt with an ugly girl. If a guy is flirting with you, he's interested. Whether you're good friends or have just met, flirting from a guy means he's interested. Flirting from a girl on the other hand could mean many things. She wants a free drink. She wants to make her boyfriend upset. She wants a guys attention... and many many other reasons. Girls are complex--men are not in this regard.

Just make sure you avoid the friend zone. If you're already in love with someone who you consider a friend, you need to tell them. Either you'll get everything you've ever wanted (until the inevitable breakup and never talking to again) or you can cut ties with this person tomorrow and start to enjoy other people's company. It's simply not healthy to be in the friend zone, so guys, do everything you can to avoid it.